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Safety Audits and Owner Operators

If you’re considering getting your own DOT number and becoming an owner operator, you should be aware that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will conduct a “new entrant safety audit.” This will be conducted somewhere within the first 6 to 18 months you’re in operation and is mandatory for all new owner operators.

The audit looks at six different factors to decide whether you are in compliance with all safety regulations, and you must document all the steps you’ve taken to ensure that compliance. The investigator will be looking for two types of violations, acute and critical. Acute are the most severe, while critical violations will not count against you unless you reach 10 percent non-compliance or more.

6 Factors of a Safety Audit

  1. You’ll be asked to show proof of insurance and a list of all DOT-recordable accidents and the accompanying accident reports.
  1. You’ll have to show you have filled out a DOT driver application, have had proper training, a valid CDL with the necessary classes and endorsements, a valid medical card on file, compliance with all drug and alcohol testing, driving record, background checks, annual MVR checks, and all traffic violations.
  1. You’ll have to show compliance with HOS regulations, meaning you’ll have to provide logs and supporting documents-and be aware, any violations in this area carry twice the weight of all others.
  1. You’ll have to show that you comply with all annual inspection requirements and produce a maintenance file for each vehicle you have. This file should show all inspection, repair and maintenance activity.
  1. This will only apply to you if you have a hazmat endorsement and haul those types of loads.
  1. The final factor is accidents. The investigator will look at the number of FMCSA recordable accidents you’ve had over the last 12 months and calculate the accident rate per 1 million miles. If you’ve had less than two accidents over the last 12 months you don’t have to worry.

If you pass the audit, you will be granted regular carrier status. If you fail, what happens depends on the severity. You may have to provide a corrective plan or if your violations are severe enough, your carrier registration will be immediately revoked. So take this audit seriously and comply 100 percent.